Ringdahl Named To 2017 WBCA Allstate Good Works Team


INDIANAPOLIS  Feb. 7, 2017 – Ave Maria women’s basketball sophomore Katie Ringdahl is one of 20 student-athletes named to the 2017 Allstate WBCA and NABC Good Works Teams® announced today by Allstate Insurance Company, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).

Ringdahl, a native of Gainesville, Fla., leads the Young Life program at Immokalee High School and is the only volunteer in the school and ministers to 1,300 high school students. Ringdahl is also an integral part of ReRun Sneakers, a non-profit organization started in Gainesville in 2012. Their mission is to give used sneakers to children and adults who are less fortunate.

She was named the Sun Conference’s Champion of Character award winner for the sport of women’s basketball as a freshman last season.

Since the awards inception in 2012-13, Ave Maria has placed two on the list with women’s basketball’s Emily Huber being named to the list in its inaugural year.

While exceptional student-athletes are often rewarded for their competitive achievements, this award shines a light on 20 young men and women for the things they accomplish off the court. From contributing to those affected by the Flint water crisis to visiting Nigeria to educate girls about how to succeed on and off the basketball court, this year’s teams made a positive, lasting impact.

The Allstate WBCA and NABC Good Works Teams® are each comprised of 10 student-athletes – five from NCAA®Division I, and five from NCAA Divisions II, III and the NAIA. This year, sports information directors and coaches at colleges and universities across the country submitted a record 278 nominations, and in December 2016, 97 nominees from the WBCA and 181 nominees from the NABC were announced.

The nominees were narrowed down to the final 20 players by voting panels led by former Notre Dame star, three-time NCAA All-American and two-time WNBA All-Star Skylar Diggins of the Dallas Wings and former Duke University guard, two-time NCAA champion and seven-time NBA All-Star Grant Hill. Both Diggins and Hill are making positive contributions that extend far beyond the basketball court, dedicating their time to various philanthropic initiatives, including teaching youth the importance of nutrition and physical activity. Each panel is comprised of a select group of former and current college basketball coaches and players as well as various members of the media.

“Allstate is thrilled to be joining the NABC and WBCA for a fifth consecutive year to highlight the remarkable displays of character demonstrated by student-athletes around the country,” said Thomas Clarkson, president of the west territory for Allstate Insurance Company and a member of the 2017 NABC and WBCA Good Works Teams® selection panels. “We are proud to be a part of a program that places such high value on altruism and community service, both of which are intrinsic to Allstate’s mission.”

In addition to dedicating countless hours to their studies and athletics, the members of this year’s team have spent their limited free time bettering communities all over the world and demonstrating a strong commitment to improving the lives of others.

“The WBCA is proud of the 10 young women and 10 young men selected to this year’s Allstate Good Works Teams from the 278 student-athletes who were nominated for the honor,” said WBCA Executive Director Danielle M. Donehew. “We are inspired by their commitment and dedication to serving others. And we are most grateful to Allstate for sponsoring this wonderful program through which we all can recognize our young leaders and celebrate their lasting contributions of love, kindness, and hope.”

Since 2013, members of the Allstate WBCA and NABC Good Works Teams® have given back to the host cities of the NCAA® Final Fours® through a community service initiative and monetary donation. This year, the members of the Allstate WBCA Good Works Team® will be recognized during the 2017 WBCA Convention and at the 2017 NCAA Women’s Final Four® in Dallas, and will also participate in a local community project in Dallas community. Additionally, members of the Allstate NABC Good Works Team® will be invited by Allstate to be recognized at the 2017 NABC Convention and 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four® and will participate in a community service project to benefit Phoenix. Allstate is an official corporate partner of the WBCA, NABC and NCAA.

“For five years, the Allstate Good Works Team program has showcased men’s and women’s basketball collegiate athletes for their extraordinary benevolent actions performed away from the court,” said Jim Haney, NABC executive director. “We applaud the group of 20 selected for this year’s teams whose humanitarian efforts have helped raise the human spirit locally, nationally and globally.”

10 Tips to Stand Out at the Career Expo


With Ave’s Career Expo quickly approaching, it is important to be preparing for the possibility of meeting your future employer. Career fairs are a gold mine of networking opportunities, and it is important to plan for them in a way that will set you apart from the rest. Internship and job seeking can be daunting, so here are some tips that will help you to catch the eye of the recruiters and put your best self forward. Remember, preparation is key!

1. Review the list of employers that will be attending, along with the job opportunities that they provide, to allow yourself to prioritize the booths that you plan on visiting. Visit the booth you have the least interest in first to allow your confidence to build as you go along, reaching its peak when you visit the booth you are most interested in.

2. Thoroughly research the companies that will be attending the fair. By doing this, you can formulate specific questions focused on positions that interest you, and impress them with your initiative to learn about their company’s mission and purpose.

3. Perfect your resume and tailor it according to the booths that you will be visiting at the expo. Your resume should showcase your entire professional life and highlight your talents. Talk about past accomplishments, rather than duties. Employers care more about what you took away from experiences, rather than what your job title says you did. Make sure to bring more than enough copies to give to each booth you plan to visit!

4. Dress appropriately for the occasion. Conservative business wear will allow you to make a good first impression. In addition, knowing you look sharp will give you confidence!

5. Formulate an introduction that will catch the recruiter’s attention, while showcasing your personal brand. Begin with a handshake, state your name, welcome them, and explain why you are interested in their organization. You may only have a few minutes to market yourself, so make the most of your time!

6. Stand out by going the extra mile. So many job candidates do only what is expected, making it easy for you to rise above mediocrity. For example, print your resume on linen paper so it feels differently than all the rest that the recruiter will have been given, showcase your personal brand by having business cards of your own to hand out, or wear a bold colored pant suit. Be yourself, and own it.

7. Take notes when you inquire about the next steps to be taken in order to move forward. Be sure to write down names, phone numbers, and email addresses of additional managers or contacts that they recommend that you get in touch with.

8. Ask for a business card before you leave the booth. Promptly send a thank you note or leave a voicemail, using this as an opportunity to reiterate that you have interest in a second interview. This will show the representative that you appreciate their time and have genuine interest in moving forward.

9. Follow up with companies that you are interested in moving forward with, using the information on their business card to set up appointments or interviews.

10. Create a database on your computer of all of the contacts you have acquired by entering business card information. You never know when one may be exactly what you are looking for to land your dream job, or even help out a friend!

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Student Spotlight: Anna Kunza


Anna Kunza, a senior from Burbank, California, is a shining example of what it means to be an Ave Maria student. Her love for God is not only the most important thing in her life, but is evident to all that she comes in contact with. As a double major in both Music and Humanities, Anna plans to go on to graduate school to pursue a career in either Human Resources or Public Relations.

Immokalee soup kitchen starts Super Bowl weekend with tailgate lunch for homeless


Friday morning, as scores of hungry men, women and children lined up outside the organization’s center, a group of Ave Maria football players, wearing their navy jerseys, huddled around a table as they assembled silver rosaries to later give to the lunch guests.

In the kitchen, instead of calling plays or running drills, coaches rushed back and forth to help soup kitchen manager Yanira Lopez prepare chili, hot dogs and pasta.

Lopez, who has worked at the soup kitchen since 2010, knows it better than most.

“When I first came to the United States, this is where I came with my parents to eat,” said Lopez, who moved from Guatemala to Immokalee when she was just 2 years old. “I know what it is to be in line. I know what it is to be in their shoes, to be hungry. I know what it is to stand in the hot sun for — you know some of my clients have been out here since 7 a.m.”

Lopez, 31, doesn’t remember much from that time, but she is glad she returned to the place that helped her and her family adjust to their new home.

“It’s rewarding for me to give back to the community,” said Lopez, who is 4-foot-8 and uses a step stool to stir the contents that bubble inside tall metal pots on the stove. “They just want to be loved just like you and me.”

Speaker Spotlight: Fr. Matthew L. Lamb


Ave Maria University’s own Fr. Matthew Lamb will be one of the plenary speakers at the conference on Mother Teresa and the Mystics. Fr. Lamb’s talk, “Saint Teresa of Calcutta as a Witness to the Universality of God’s Love and the Natural Law,” will speak of how Mother and Saint Teresa of Calcutta, in her love and service of the poorest of the poor, illustrates the importance of the universality of human reason gifted to all by God. Saint Mother Teresa often affirmed that she and her Missionaries of Charity were caring for the poorest of the poor no matter what their religious affiliation, or lack thereof. All in need were welcomed into the care of the sisters and brothers, whether they were Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, or whatever.  The universality of God’s love grounds the universality of the natural law.

From St. John Paul II she realized that all human beings have an image of God as their rational soul. The universality of her care for those in need bears witness of the universality of human nature and the natural law. St. Thomas Aquinas provides a theological understanding of this witness to natural law.  There are two key elements in his theological development of this universality.  One is his analysis of the three levels of the “image of God in man”; the other is his clear distinction between the virtue of religion and the theological virtue of charity. Both of these indicate the importance of the universality of God’s love manifested in nature and the natural law.

Fr. Lamb will speak on Saturday, February 11th at 10:30am, in the Bob Thomas Student Union Ballroom.

For more information about the conference, click here!

Silver is Gold


Twenty-five years ago today Miss Mary Griffith stood with me at the altar at St. Joseph’s Church in Washington, DC to exchange vows in holy matrimony.  After Communion, she joined me in praying a prayer of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Through our public vows we became husband and wife that day.  We held tight to Our Lady’s hand and have never looked back.

But on a day like today we realize anew that neither of us could have imagined the abundant and tender mercies of God that were hidden in our promises that fine Saturday: among them, five spectacular children, three miscarriages at 13 weeks, seven different homes, nine different jobs (including two traumatic changes), and now, our home at Ave Maria University and the privilege we share to walk among the loveliness of our students, faculty, colleagues and friends.

Mary and I were reflecting on these many graces at noon Mass today (by the way, Irish tenor Mark Forrest – one of the greats of our time – sang, and will return to sing at 7:30pm tonight in the Oratory and trust me when I tell you that you will be making a big mistake if you don’t go and experience his gift as he sings and prays in the shadow of the Blessed Sacrament).  Our hearts overflow with gratitude.

I once contemplated becoming a priest and in 1989 spent a year with the Missionaries of Charity Fathers in Tijuana where their seminary was founded.  Mary actually entered the convent and lived the consecrated life with the Missionaries of Charity for one year before the superior in the Bronx discerned she wasn’t called to the religious life (O happy fault!).  The fact that neither of us was called to this exalted life left us disappointed, as if we had been consigned by God to a second-class vocation.  And then we found each other and discovered how utterly blind we had been!

The vocation to marriage is a high calling!  It is rich with opportunities to grow, sacrifice, and as Mother Teresa urged, “love and give until it hurt.”  The call to holiness the Lord placed before us is different from the lofty life of a priest or nun, but no less demanding and rewarding.

Thomas Merton, the celebrated 20th century Trappist contemplative, once wrote that “the spiritual life, first of all, is a life.”  He was challenging all of us to immerse ourselves in the world and all of its joys and imperfections, and not spiritualize ourselves or daily circumstances. Life is indeed beauty.  As the Little Flower said, paraphrasing Romans 4, “everything is grace.”  That is true for moments of effortless delight like today, and also true when things get difficult, both in marriage and in life.

Fortunately, the crosses the Lord places before us are weighed with wisdom by a loving Father who alone knows what each of us can handle.  What is important is our steadfast faithfulness and our conviction to never quit and give up on His mercy and grace.  If we get up when we fall beneath the burdens and disappointments life offers, if we carry on with conviction and embrace the words of Jesus, “Take heart, I have overcome the world!” we arrive at moments where there is a penetrating clarity that indeed we are in the will of God, for better or worse, in good times and bad, in sickness and health, until death do us part.

If you see my beloved Mary congratulate her on surviving 25 years with me!  She has earned her “get out of purgatory free” card!

She and I are so very grateful to all of you for your encouragement and acceptance of us.  We have felt so welcomed by you from the day we arrived on campus (next week will be the 6th anniversary of the announcement of my appointment as Ave Maria University’s president).  May we all discover in our individual vocations our good fortune to be together as members of one Body in Christ, in the glow of Our Lady’s love.

Alumni Spotlight: Jerome Cole (’16)


Jerome Cole graduated with honors from Ave Maria University in 2016 with a double major in Physics and Music, and a minor in Mathematics. He was accepted into the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he began earning his Master of Music degree in organ performance this past fall.

While at AMU, Jerome was involved with the student club Life Runners, an on-campus division of the National LIFE Runners organization, which aims to fight for and celebrate life through running, sacrifice, community, and prayer. As a former Eagle Scout, Jerome loves any outdoor activity.

Now as a graduate student in one of the nation’s top music schools, Jerome spends much of his time inside, studying and practicing. But his heart is still set on community, service, and prayer. “My particular interest lies in the field of sacred music,” he shares. “One of my goals is to bring people closer to Christ in the Holy Eucharist through a beautiful presentation of the musical elements of the Liturgy.”

At IU Jacobs School of Music, Jerome’s favorite class is an organ literature class with Dr. Christopher Young. “We are exploring the repertoire of the Renaissance and early Baroque,” he explains, “and learning much about early organ composers and performance practices. The class is harder than history classes I have previously taken, which has pushed me to improve and take my game to the next level, so to speak.” He hopes to begin entering organ competitions soon.

Reflecting on his time at AMU, Jerome recognizes the value of having received a foundation in the liberal arts through the Core Curriculum. “The importance of the Core Curriculum at Ave cannot be overlooked,” he states. “It is hard to pinpoint exactly how it helps one, but this is not the point; the point is that it forms the individual as a human being and does not treat one as a robot… I could accurately say I would not be the person I am today without having taken Latin, Philosophy, Theology and Literature—the best that has been said and done.” In a more practical way, he goes on, the amount of writing practice received through the many paper assignments, and the quality of writing expected, has given him some of the tools necessary for professional and academic success. “Writing is a skill necessary in any field of study, and one for which both employers and professors look,” Jerome adds.

Jerome has some advice for current students looking to follow a path similar to his: set clear goals, and work hard to achieve them. “You can do just about anything if you set your mind to it; you can come from a small music program at a liberal arts college and go to graduate school at one of the best music schools in the nation. Dream big and work hard.”

Conference Plenary Speaker Spotlight: Fr. Vincent Meconi


Fr. Vincent Meconi will be one of the plenary speakers at the Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal’s conference, Mother Teresa and the Mystics: Toward a Renewal of Spiritual Theology. 

In his lecture, “Touching Jesus Today: The Mystical Body & Mother Teresa,” Fr. Meconi will situate St. Teresa of Calcutta in the glorious line of Christians who prayed and worked so as to meet Christ in Christ’s people, especially the poor.  How she structured her prayer life, her hope for liturgy, and her entire desire to be with the marginalized was all in order to meet the thirsty Jesus.  How she did that, how she appropriated key theological elements of the Church Fathers and Medieval Doctors, and why this is a call for all of us will be the major themes of this paper.

Fr. Meconi will give the closing address at 5:00 pm on Saturday, February 11th, in the Bob Thomas Student Union Ballroom.

In celebration of the canonization of Teresa of Calcutta in September 2016, the Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal at Ave Maria University will take an in-depth look at the legacy of her life and writings in the context of the great mystics of the Catholic tradition as well as of spiritual theology, also known as ascetical and mystical theology.  The conference will bring together scholars from the across the sub-disciplines of theology and related fields to explore Mother Teresa’s life and writings in conversation with the broader tradition of Catholic mysticism and theology.

Ave Sends More Than 200 to March for Life


What a day on the Washington mall today! Ave Maria University was well-represented at this year’s March for Life with 200 students praying, marching, and putting their faith into action.  I’ve attached a photo to give you a glimpse of our wonderful students.  It was great to be with them – and I had a nice visit with the delegation of 50 from the Donahue Academy, too!

It also was nice to see the Vice President of the United States at the podium addressing the vast throng of attendees.  President Obama had banished the stage for speakers to a distance away from the line of sight of the South Lawn of the White House but today it was back to the same location where President Bush allowed the march to be staged – in the shadow of the Washington Monument.

The first report of The Washington Post ends with a quote from one of Ave Maria’s students.  I have copied the link below.  It is nice to see our University’s voice amplified in the national media – in the unlikeliest of places, too!

The Conference: In Short


Student Government leaders from Benedictine College, University of Mary, and University of Dallas joined us last weekend for a conference, and we couldn’t be happier.

Not only did we build friendships, but we also exchanged ideas that will lead toward the improvement of our institutions and, hopefully, Catholic higher education.

Our guests arrived Friday, January 20, and joined us for a quick tour, dinner, and meet and greet. The real action began on Saturday morning. Beginning with Mass by “Padre,” we learned about St. Agnes’ commitment to loving Christ. We then started with presentations from each school, which helped us get context and better understand our peer schools and their students. Later in the day, we were joined by Dr. Seana Sugrue, who challenged us to think about tough decisions, and how to work through them. After that, we discussion more in-depth the culture and events on our campuses, which moved smoothly into leadership and how our governments operate. Finally, we discussed where we envision The Network going in the future.

We were truly honored to host our guests. It seems that we all started wondering if this idea, one of a “network” for Catholic schools would really work in this age of competition. However, we are now confident that this idea is one worth pursuing. There is so much potential, and with the right mindset, it was obvious that our new friends are extremely talented and motivated.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be posting a series of articles giving more detail about what we learned. We hope you will join us in learning from our friends.